Take Your Chances

35lb 6oz Patch Common

Mat Woods does something different and bags a whacker.

In the latest Avid Carp DVD, we have a great chapter with Ian Russell and Jason Allaway about ‘Taking Your Chances’. Vigilance is really important in fishing, and how you do that is more than just staring at the lake. Anybody can watch the water, but how you act upon what you see is the most important thing. Chances can present themselves in the blink of an eye and those that react in the right way usually put more fish on the memory card.

This year I’ve done a lot more fishing than usual because I made a New Year’s Resolution to go fishing whenever I could, instead of being so selective. On Baden Hall’s Quarry Pool that means enduring more of the day-ticket circus than I’m used to, but perseverance pays! Last year I missed out on some good fishing because I was sat at home or in the office moaning that conditions weren’t quite right, the lake was too busy, and so on and so forth. I could write the book of excuses, trust me! Indeed, every time I’ve been to the Quarry this year conditions have been absolutely terrible.

Easterlies, northerlies, bright sunshine or freezing rain – you couldn’t make it up! Nevertheless, keeping my eyes peeled at all times has led to some nice fish.

On my most recent trip I hadn’t made my mind up whether to fish the Quarry or not. I really want to put some time in on the Bridge Pool at Baden, as the fish are stunning and growing fast. Avid Carp media superman Anthony Molyneux and I were filming some underwater footage for the new Outline products, a two-tone line and fluorocarbon that you’ll wonder how you ever went fishing without! Have you seen the Outline? No, neither have we!

The weed was super thick and full of insects on the hatch

Ant and I were in what is traditionally a crap swim on Baden. He was doing his thing underwater with the Go Pro and I was watching the water, wondering where the fish might be. Lo and behold, a fish came clear of the water, a proper show, not the Baden carp’s usual subtle roll. I quickly got the rods out of the car and flicked a couple of rigs in the area. The previous week I’d seen the fish in the same area, but didn’t figure out how to catch them. I was conscious of this as I cast the same rigs out, albeit with different baits on.

That morning there was a colossal hatch – you’ve never seen so many swifts and swallows in your life. With the wind blowing into our corner, we could clearly see it was a big mosquito hatch. The shells of the larvae were everywhere and we even had them hatching out in our hands when we scooped out larvae that hadn’t quite made it yet.

Another fish showed, another spectacular leap towards the clouds. There was no way they were up in the water, despite the hatch. Ant commented that the fish must be coming from down deep and something clicked. I remembered from a previous season the carp taking zig hookbaits presented on top of the weed. Such was their appetite for the hatch they were grazing in and on top of the weed rather than just up in the layers.

I reeled in and, after measuring the length of the kelp-type weed prevalent in the Quarry, tied a 1½ft zig with the thinnest sliver of foam possible, so it almost sank. I added a dab of Sonubaits Lava just to make the hookbait easier to find. Using just 8lb Zig Line, which is tough as old boots, it was as delicate as I dared given the new weed growth. I flicked the rod the short distance to the fish and clipped on the BoBBin. Just 30 seconds later, the BoBBin lifted ever so slightly towards the rod. “That’s a bite,” smiled Ant. I hesitated until I saw the tip of the DSK nudging around before winding down to what was clearly a heavy fish.

Add some movement with a splash of Lava – it looks like a wriggling insect
Zig Line fished with Lava is a deadly combo

Roy Russell arrived on his buggy just in time to man the net during the fight. We were both convinced this was a really big one, possibly the big one, especially when we saw such a large common with a small tail wallowing in the clear water. The fish had fought like the heaviest bream in the universe, just like the big girl. With the camera rolling, Roy kept looking at me like “this is it Woodsy”, but I didn’t even want to think about it until the common was in the net! After weeding me up several times, steady pressure (and a quivering ring-piece) brought the fish to the folds of the net.

I was ready to run off and jump the river, but Roy didn’t turn around with the face I expected; he was confused. Some missing scales indicated it wasn’t the one he’d thought, but it was the really rare Patch Common, a fish that hadn’t been out for over a year. At 35½lb I was not complaining. It was my second mid-thirty in as many nights and made it worth acting on an opportunity that would have been totally missed had I headed to one of the more popular open water swims.

As it happened, the fish stayed where they were, but didn’t start getting caught again until a couple of days after I’d left. I needn’t have bothered fishing that night, but I’m glad I did because what I saw that morning has given me a great idea for the next session. I just hope the weather’s a bit better next time, and that the carp continue to provide clues about their whereabouts and movements. It helps!

Another victim of the Outline

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